Oscar Acoustics, Great Britain’s leading specialists in architectural acoustic finishes, have revealed that continuous exposure to escalating noise levels is gradually diminishing productivity levels in the financial and professional services sectors.
The findings, which form part of a nationwide study of 1,500 office workers, examined the impact of workplace noise and discovered that 81% of workers experience a significant drop in their productive output due to excessive noise levels in the workplace.
Constant distractions in offices are becoming a deterrent for staff, with more than a quarter (27%) identifying excessive noise as one of their biggest frustrations. The research also discovered that almost three quarters (74%) of employees feel they work more effectively at home than in the office.
This comes amid discussions around the merits of hybrid working. Research from recruitment agency, Monster, revealed that half of employers have been happy with flexible working options, but one-third have since altered their stance compared to a year ago.
When delving further into the causes of reduced productivity, the research learned that 52% of workers are unable to concentrate due to noise, with over a third (37%) delivering poor quality work as a result.
When asked specifically about the levels of noise in the office, three in ten staff admit they have chosen to work from home, while 20% have felt compelled to relocate to a different desk away from their colleagues.
Excessive noise has also been medically proven to impact workers’ health. The survey learned that 11% of UK office workers believe their working conditions have negatively impacted their hearing. Over one in five have trouble sleeping, and nearly one in four reports having to work outside of their contracted hours to make up for reduced productivity.
As a result of persistent noise, there is increased tension among colleagues. Shockingly, 7% of employees admitted resorting to physical violence, and a fifth admitted to having snapped at a colleague. Surprisingly, 34-44 year olds were the most affected group, and a further 6% revealed that they were driven to quit their job as a result of workplace noise.
When asked if their employers are working to reduce uncomfortable noise levels, only 22% of respondents believe the issue is being taken seriously, and around a quarter revealed that behavioural training measures have been introduced to encourage a quieter office atmosphere.
Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, said, “Employers are facing real challenges navigating hybrid working expectations from employees, and with heightened discussions around increasing days in the office, these challenges will continue to mount.
“Office design has shifted enormously in recent years, but our research shows acoustic performance is not always up to the required standard, leading to a negative impact on staff workflow. Businesses need to ensure their office environment enables staff to work effectively.”
“Although the issue of noise may seem like a small irritant, it seriously impacts productivity and staff wellbeing, and failing to take the issue seriously has the very real potential to damage businesses’ ability to attract and retain staff, impacting bottom lines and in serious cases endangering worker health.”